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Sheep Dipping

Volume 468: debated on Thursday 29 November 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research the Government is (a) commissioning and (b) funding on alternatives to organophosphate sheep dip. (168059)

DEFRA and the Scottish Government have been funding research into alternatives to conventional veterinary medicines for control of sheep scab for several years. The projects and costs are listed in the following table.

Projects to investigate the alternatives to conventional sheep dips for the control of scab

OD0535 Novel biologically based control methods of the sheep scab mite preliminary investigations

Funding DEFRA £24,000

Project completed and further information available on the DEFRA website at:

http://www2.defra.gov.uk/research/project_data/More.asp?I=OD0535&M=KWS&V#Time

OD0536 Biochemical and physiological studies to identify potential targets for the control of Psoroptes ovis

Funding: DEFRA £314,341; Scottish Government £70,000

Project completed and report available on the DEFRA website at:

http://randd.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx?Menu=Menu&Module=More&Location=None&ProjectID=9539&FromSearch=Y&Publisher=1&SearchText=OD0536&SortString=ProjectCode&SortOrder=Asc&Paging=10#Description

OD0537 Biochemical and immunological studies in sheep infected with the mite, Psoroptes ovis

Funding: DEFRA £586,725; Scottish Government £70,000

Project completed and report available on the DEFRA website at:

http://randd.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx?Menu=Menu&Module=More&Location=None&ProiectID=9541&FromSearch=Y&Publisher=1&SearchText=OD0537&SortString=ProjectCode&SortOrder=Asc&Paging=10#Description

OD0538 Studies on the biological control of sheep scab mite, Psoroptes ovis, using entomopathogenic fungi.

Funding: DEFRA £309,321

Project completed and report available on the DEFRA website at:

http://randd.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx?Menu=Menu&Module=More&Location=None&ProjectID=9543&FromSearch=Y&Publisher=1&SearchText=OD0538&SortString=ProjectCode&SortOrder=Asc&Paging=10#Description

OD0539 Potential targets for biologically based novel methods of control of the sheep scab mite by study of its basic biology and endocrinology.

Funding: DEFRA £348,813; Scottish Government £70,000

Project completed and report available on the DEFRA website at:

http://randd.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx?Menu=Menu&Module=More&Location=None&ProjectID=9545&FromSearch=Y&Publisher=1&SearchText=OD0539&SortString=ProjectCode&SortOrder=Asc&Paging=10#Description

OD0544 Immunological approaches to the control of sheep scab mite.

Funding: DEFRA £769,799

Project Completed and report available at:

http://randd.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx?Menu=Menu&Module=More&Location=None&ProiectID=12320&FromSearch=Y&Publisher=1&SearchText=OD0544&SortString=ProjectCode&SortOrder=Asc&Paging=10#Description

OD0545 Studies on the biological control of the sheep scab mite Psoroptes ovis.

Funding: DEFRA £639,249

Project Completed and report available on the DEFRA website at:

http://randd.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx?Menu=Menu&Module=More&Location=None&ProjectID=12321&FromSearch=Y&Publisher=1&SearchText:=OD0545&SortString=ProiectCode&SortOrder=Asc&Paging=10#Description

OD0546 Feasibility of using biological studies to develop novel control of the sheep scab mite.

Funding: DEFRA £328,096

Project continuing. Abstract available at:

http://randd.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx?Menu=Menu&Module=More&Location=None&ProjectID=12322&FromSearch=Y&Publisher=1&SearchText=OD0546&SortString=ProjectCode&SortOrder=Asc&Paging=10#Description

OD0552 Identification of novel control methods through better understanding of the biology and physiology of the sheep scab mite.

Funding: DEFRA £351,133

Project continuing. Abstract available at:

http://randd.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx?Menu=Menu&Module=More&Location=None&ProjectID=15199&FromSearch=Y&Publisher=1&SearchText=sheep%20scab&GridPage=1&SortString=ProjectCode&SortOrder=Asc&Paging=10#Description

OD0553 Investigation of the potential for the control of sheep scab using immunological approaches and the development of diagnostic tools.

Funding: DEFRA £734,294

Project continuing. Abstract available at:

http://randd.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx?Menu-Menu&Module=More&Location=None&ProjectID=15200&FromSearch=Y&Publisher=1&SearchText=OD0553&SortString=ProjectCode&SortOrder=Asc&Paging=10#Description

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what advice his Department makes available on the use of organophosphate sheep dip. (168060)

The DEFRA, Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) and Environment Agency (EA) websites provide advice on the use and disposal of sheep dip.

Advice from VMD and the EA covers:

safety to the animals, the operators and the environment;

purchasing and transport of the sheep dip product;

the requirement for a responsible person to hold a Certificate of Competence and for that person to supervise others operating the dips;

the siting of the dip baths to minimise the risk of the sheep dip product entering watercourses;

the storage, treatment and disposal of spent dip;

record keeping;

emergencies, i.e. what to do if a person comes into direct contact with the sheep dip.

Advice from DEFRA covers the Groundwater Protection Code—Use and disposal of sheep dip compounds.

Both the VMD and EA websites include links to the Pollution Reduction Programme (PRP) which promotes the safe use of sheep dips.

The VMD website also contains a link to the HSE document AS29 entitled Sheep Dipping—Advice for Farmers and Others involved in Dipping Sheep.

In addition to the website information, an accompanying safety checklist poster must be supplied to each purchaser of sheep dip products at the time of purchase. Also, a NFU poster ‘Stop every drop’, which was produced as a direct result of the joint VMD/EA Pollution Reduction Plan has been sent to all 51,000 sheep farmers on the British Wool Marketing Board’s database.

The relevant links are as follows:

Groundwater Protection Code:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/water/ground/sheepdip/pdf/Code.pdf

VMD:

http://www.vmd.gov.uk/General/sheepdip/sheepdips.htm

EA:

http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/business/

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will commission research jointly with the Department of Health looking into genetic susceptibility to nervous disorders as a result of using organophosphate sheep dips. (168061)

The Government has funded a number of research projects into the possible effects in humans of exposure to organophosphates (OPs), in particular OP based sheep dips. This research forms a key part of the Government’s four point plan on OPs announced in December 1999.

The research was commissioned following the 1999 Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) report entitled “Organophosphates” in which five recommendations for further research were made. The Government have asked COT

“to advise on whether prolonged or repeated low level exposure to OPs, or acute exposure to OPs at a lower dose than causing frank intoxication, can cause chronic ill-health effects”.

In addition, Government R and D funds have also been used to commission several other projects on OPs and human health.

On genetic susceptibility, COT recommended that research should be undertaken to show whether people with chronic disabling illness that is suspected of being related to OPs differ metabolically from the general population. The project on the genetic variation in susceptibility to chronic effects of organophosphate exposure has been completed and the final report is on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrhtm/rr408.htm.

A related study entitled “Genetic and other sources of variation in the activity of serum paraoxonase in humans: consequences for the risk from exposure to diazinon” has been published in Pharmacogenet, Genomics, 2005 January; 15(1): p51-60.

COT reviewed the research arising from their recommendations along with all other Government-funded research into OPs on 4 September 2007. In reviewing the above work, COT concluded that the results may have reflected genetic differences in susceptibility to ill health, but that if so, these were unlikely to be related to organophosphate toxicity.

COT noted that, as some of the research projects commissioned as a result of their 1999 recommendations had yet to be completed, they would need to revisit the work when all the final reports have been received. COT also advised that the final review should consider the Government-funded research in the wider context of all research on OPs and human health. Once the final review is received from COT, the Government will consider this and the need for any research which might be identified as part of an integrated programme of work. Currently, there are no plans to commission any further research on genetic susceptibility to nervous disorders as a result of using organophosphate sheep dips.